RIP – Mitch Hedberg
I wasn’t really ready for this guy to go, ya know?
I don’t know if any of you have ever been a real fan of someone’s work. You know someone that you know you’ll enjoy whenever you see them. Someone who writes stuff that you enjoy so much that you begin to succumb to the illusion that you are identifiying with the artist as a person, rather than the on-screen invented personality of a performer. It takes a certain caliber of work to touch people in that way, and it takes even more than that to get through to me. We already know that I don’t like much of shit that anyone has to say. But I was truly a fan of Mitch Hedberg.
I didn’t want to believe it Wednesday evening when a friend of mine, Hannibal, informed me of Hedberg’s death. Hannibal himself being a comic, I really hoped it to be a really inappropriate April Fool’s day gag. No such luck, however. At some point the following afternoon, I ran across the MTV.com post that sunk me into a pool of melancholy of the remainder of the week.
It’s all crazy ironic, though. I had put Hannibal on to Mitch about two years prior. I was Hannibal’s R.A. in the dorms at the time and he brought me a tape of him doing his act in central Illinois. His style reminded me of Hedberg’s. Both had that laidback, slow motion, pot-head style, and both had an impervious deadpan that would crack into a glowing grin during the delivery of some of their funnier bits. Hannibal had never heard of Hedberg before so I made him a CD of some stuff that I’d downloaded from the net.
Then about a month and a half ago, Hannibal calls me telling me that he had not only met Mitch, but that Mitch was letting him open up for him at one of the larger clubs in Chicago. That got Hannibal a glowing write-up in a Chicago newspaper, since I guess everyone expected him to suck.
So when Hannibal calls me last week to tell me of Mitch’s passing, I was content to believe that either he had been the victim of a tasteless joke, or he was attempting to make me one. Just wishful thinking in the end, since it was true that Mitch had been found dead in a hotel room.
THERE’S A SEGUE HERE SOMEWHERE
People often wonder why I enjoy the things that I enjoy. Most of us realize that all experience is objective, so we all know that each individual sees each event in the universe differently. Therefore I may see a Slim Thug video and begin to bleed internally, while some of my peers my get up and dance a little jig. But in spite of this accepted truth we still ascribe certain internal characteristics to certain outer characteristics. So when people see me with an untrimmed beard, long notty locs, earthtoned wears and silver jewelry, they quickly put me in the neo-soul or reggae catergory. They assume that I just got through eating bean sprouts and that I know where the weed is.
When people see me they usually assume that my favorite musicians are these people:
Anyone who has read even a paragraph of any of my previous columns can immediately strike at least two names off of that list. And even though I may enjoy a few of the remaining artists, none of them (save maybe D’Angelo) are even in my top ten.
Maybe it’s a result of my off-centered social development (read: nerdiness), or just some genetic pre-disposition towards “quirky” and “awkward” artists, but I tend to be attracted to melodies, rhythms, and lyrics that are more idio-syncratic, self-revealing and sometimes just plain strange. As a matter of fact, I feel like I can trust you guys…
How about I show you what my real top ten artist list would look like:
They Might be Giants
MC Paul Barman
Okay so it’s a top eight…I had to stop right then, as I found myself struggling to think of more hip-hop artists to pad the list with…
I mean I’m supposed to be the last bastion of hip-hop sanctity around here, right? What would happen to the online-street-credibility of the bitter b-boy if you all found out that when he’s by himself “Open” Mike Eagle dances in his draws to “Birdhouse in Your Soul”?
Well…deep in my heart I know that nothing would happen. Honestly at this point, I don’t believe that anyone is reading this strictly for hip-hop commentary, since the question that I’ve been asked most since I began writing this thing is “What in the hell does ‘Pee on the bunny’ mean?”
I’ve always had a difficult time telling people that I don’t know that well about my closet full of weird shit that I hold sacred. The TMBG LP’s, the PT Anderson movies, and the Tom Robbins books. The things that most define who I am as a person. The little gifts that creative nerds through time have given me. The things that outline the differences between me and other young, American, Black males.
Because in a really trite and sappy way, they’ve always been the things that make me feel isolated from people.
I still have fresh memories from grammar of me lying to folks about how dope I thought the new MC Eiht joint was, or how that new Snoop song was so fresh. Not only did I now really enjoy either of those dudes, but I barely knew anything about them. I would go home every day and listen to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and of course King Missile.
The reason I felt so compelled to keep it all to myself? …Fear.
Fear of not being accepted. Fear of being exposed for not being “Black” enough (to a bunch of Puerto Ricans and Polish kids no less!..). For fear of having to physically experience the isolation that I felt in my inner universe…
That’s probably why I so vehemently support hip-hop artists that I like, and so loudly denounce those that I do not. I imagine it to be some over-compensation for all the false-flagging and silence from my developmental years.
So do I really hate Will Smith, 50 cent, Ja Rule, Lil’ Jon, and others…
But for different reasons than you might think…
You see, I understand that some things about the music that these types of artists make can be appreciated. So people that don’t expect much from music are satisfied by what they offer. I, however, need much more.
Let’s use food as a metaphor. Sure a hungry person can be temporarily satiated by a Big Mac and some greasy French fries. Especially if that’s all that the person is used to. But even though fast food has enough nutrients to keep you alive. Not many would argue that fast food should be a staple in any balanced diet. It’s something that consumed almost strictly for convenience. The consumer conveniently gets something that’s edible if not nutritious, and the business gets to make a quick buck since not much production cost went into the preparation of the meal.
I look at hip-hop, no wait, I look at ALL music, movies, books, television, and comedy the same way. To me there’s a very noticeable difference between something that had a lot of time and effort put into it, and something that was formulaically slapped together to make a quick buck. And for someone to whom arts and entertainment has been as important as it has for me…the Big Mac doesn’t satisfy.
WHY I THINK SHE MIGHT BE THE ONE
In this portion of my column, I’ll give you jerks a peek into my private affairs. I’ll give you one reason every week why the new lady in my life…just…might…be…the ONE.
This week’s episode…
My lady, the Space Pirate
Folks, she may be as strange as me…
LAST WEEK’S BANGIN’ COLUMNS…(of the ones that I read)…
This somber, melancholy and all together morose column has been brought to you by the passing of Mitch Hedberg. Fortunately I was able to stop questioning the meaning of life long enough to watch Wrestlemania Sunday evening and attend RAW last night. I had a damned good time even though my InsidePulse.com sign never made it on TV. The ebbs and flows of life people…
Before I bounce I want to leave you with some rib-ticklin’ Hedberg quotes…
Til next time
I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refridgerator, blender….all you do is say what the shiit does, and add “er”. I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. Hey, what does that do? It keeps shiit fresh. Well that’s a fresher….I’m going on break.
I got to write these jokes. So, I sit at the hotel at night and I think of something that’s funny. Or, If the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of wasn’t funny.
This product that was on TV was available for four easy payments of $19.95. I would like a product that was available for three easy payments and one complicated payment. We can’t tell you which payment it is, but one of these payments is going to hard.
You know when they have a fishing show on TV? They catch the fish and then let it go. They don’t want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something.
I would imagine if you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.
I don’t wear a watch because I want my arms to weigh the same. So if somebody asks me what time it is, I have to tell them something that is going on. “What time is it, Mitch?” “Uh, that guy is eating a hamburger.” “Shit, I had to be somewhere…”
I went to the park and saw this kid flying a kite. The kid was really excited. I don’t know why, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Now if he had had a chair on the other end of that string, I would have been impressed.
At my hotel room, my friend came over and asked to use the phone. I said “Certainly.” He said “Do I need to dial 9?” I say “Yeah. Especially if it’s in the number. You can try four and five back to back real quick.”
I played golf… I did not get a hole in one, but I did hit a guy. That’s way more satisfying…
I saw a human pyramid once. It was totally unnecessary.
This shirt is dry clean only. Which means… It’s dirty.
I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughtnut… I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I give you money and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I can’t imagine a scenario that I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. To some skeptical friend, Don’t even act like I didn’t buy a doughnut, I’ve got the documentation right here… It’s in my file at home. …Under “D”.
My friend was walking down the street and he said, “I hear music.” As if there is any other way of taking it in. I tried to taste it, but it did not work.
I snake bite emergency kit is a body bag.
Sometimes I wake up and I think I should start wearing a beret, but I don’t do it though. One day I’m gonna though. You bet your ass, I will have a beret on. That’s ridiculous, but it’s true. I always fight with wearing a beret.
A minibar is a machine that makes everything expensive. When I take something out of the minibar, I always fathom that I’ll go and replace it before they check it off, but they make that stuff impossible to replace. I go to the store and ask, “Do you have coke in a glass harmonica? …Do you have individually wrapped cashews?”
I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.